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COVID and a Christmas Miracle on a Dating Site

author: ANONYMUS

The author prefers to stay anonymous. She describes herself as positive and charming person.

Personal Story: COVID and a Christmas Miracle on a Dating Site

It was last year. I got infected in the most unexpected way – from an acquaintance who has been working from home the whole year, who does not go anywhere due to the specifics of his profession. He goes to the store every 2 weeks and that’s it. Well, so this guy went shopping shortly before we met. The next week he called to tell me that there was a possibility that I was sick. And so it was, it turned out I was infected. I won’t go into detail about my health because that’s not what was interesting, but let’s just say I’m relatively healthy and went through it easily.

But imagine me, a person with a huge family, lots of friends and endless commitments, having to replace my fast-paced routine with hanging out at home. And that’s at Christmas, when one feels most connected to the loved ones. Initially, there was a slight shock because of the change. Then I thought about what work I could do at home. But once I felt the symptoms, it turned out that there was nothing I could do, I wouldn’t be able to, and I was doomed to a fortnight of sleeping and, when I wasn’t sleeping, thinking. Two weeks of contemplation. This hasn’t happened to me since…never. As someone tended to get depressed, I know that long ruminations and excessive fantasies will not lead to particularly pleasant emotions. I’ll get hung up again on how I’ve achieved nothing, how I’ve failed in my relationships, how  so much more is expected at my age, where the hell my millions are when I work so hard and finally the usual “I’m good for nothing”. And because I tend to be depressed, but  I am also sneaky, I decided to cheat the depression. How? By distracting myself, by not thinking. Okay, but for two weeks? I doubted that I could do it, having in mind that I couldn’t work, I had a headache, and I felt sick. I would have to think, it was inevitable. It occurred to me that I could watch TV or soap operas. I would get bored, I couldn’t concentrate, thinking was inevitable. If I painted, thoughts would come while I would be painting. I talked to friends on the phone, but that too made me tired. At least I was getting more sleep, that way I was cutting down on thinking time.

No matter how hard I tried, my thoughts would invade together with the strange sounds of the panel block I inhabited. I don’t know why, but these blocks made some specific working-class sounds that evoked a sense of socialism and helplessness. The buildings in the centre of the city make a different sound, but since I am good for nothing, haven’t achieved anything and so on, I hadn’t managed to buy my own place and had to do with the voice of the panel flat I inherited from my parents in a working class neighbourhood on the edge of Sofia. Not that I’m complaining, and that’s being quite objective, but my depression is fed by the dissatisfaction of my unfulfilled property longings and various other megalomaniac plans that remain far from their possibility of realization (at least in the coming years).

However, I did not give up. I found a guide to coping with depression at the library. I had picked it up at the clearance rack for the bargain sum of 50 cents. Perhaps because of its price, I had also devalued it and it sat on my shelf unopened for years. But now I needed something. I found some good pieces of advice in it. There was logic and sense in them, but like any illness, depression had its own logic and was hooked on me like a leech dragging my COVID-suffering into the depths of meaninglessness. So the book seemed pointless, or rather it seemed very good to me, but “not at that time”.

Anyway. I slept and thought. My thoughts were supercharging  my meaningless existence with their negativity and that’s why I preferred to sleep more. And so until I started to dream. Something happened after my first dream. I remember it well: I’m on the beach. I see a company of extremely cute young people. They are playing guitars and singing. I approach them. I want to be part of them. One of the young men had a very clear face – handsome and curly-haired. He turned to me and told me that I couldn’t be part of the company because I was “very burdened.” I woke up at that moment. What the hell did that mean?! Burdened!

I have a lot of friends and I don’t think they have abandoned me during my quarantine, just the opposite. They called me every day. But I didn’t want to communicate with them. What should I tell them? Nothing was happening to me and they only wanted to know how I felt and that I was okay. The conversations were getting confusing. What should we talk about? About my runny nose, whether I was coughing? I was not even “proud” of an interesting cough. Nothing special. I needed communication, but a different one. At least I knew what I wanted – thanks to my dream. I wanted to talk to nice people. A group of friends, a person, a guy, someone.

This happened around the 4th day of my illness. There were 10 more to go. I signed up on a dating site – to socialize. It seemed I had been pretty naive about the quality of the conversations there. At times I even felt like my coughs and sneezes were a far more meaningful topic than what was offered there. Until that moment when one of the young men told me he was reading a book. Oh my goodness, someone there was reading! Wow! Interesting.

The conversations became very pleasant. We didn’t share anything personal. Just books. It turned out I was not the only one with a weird taste in literature. It was, in fact, a passion of mine in high school and after that while I was studying. I remember long nights over novels by Gore Vidal and Remarque. As a student, I used to run away from my lectures so that I can go to the philology classes. I didn’t sign up to study philology because I wanted to keep my enjoyment of literature. After my third year at the university I had to start working. There was barely time to prepare for exams, let alone read literature for pleasure. So I lost that island of salvation and dived into the harsh reality of post-socialism.

So, this young man, yeah… I shared my favourite novels with him, he showed me a few authors that I started to love eventually. I started with the first of them. I knew the author, I had read something by him about 10 years ago. Gradually, I got hooked. And so the most meaningful and wonderful days of my life began. 10 days – 5 books. All of them amazing, surprising, exciting. True treasures buried in hacker sites or sent by him. I read and shared my impressions of what I had read. We got excited together, laughed at the poor characters and their comic suffering, found ourselves in their longings and lost ourselves again in the reality that separated us from them. I understood for the first time in my life what it meant to read with someone. From a stranger met on a dating site, he became the closest person in my life. There was no person on this earth who knew me better. We would finish each other’s sentences, feel each other’s moods in the short text messages we exchanged. It was beautiful, complete and natural, as if a supernatural force was orchestrating the rhythm of this relationship and we were simply overwhelmed by the inevitable connection.

As you can guess, my depression evaporated with the first page of quality literature, becoming as volatile as ethyl alcohol from a brandy jug. I didn’t even remember it existed, as if it had never been there or happened to me. What was depression?

My quarantine was over and I was back to my usual rhythm of work. But I didn’t stop reading, on the bus, in the waiting room outside the doctor’s office, in the evening before falling asleep, at any convenient moment.

My love remained forever and so did that deep connection. You must be thinking of that man and the miracles at Christmas time? Nope. I never met the man. I never found out what his real name was. Probably a liar with 6 kids and 2 dogs, 2 ex-wives and a current one, looking for a quickie on dating sites… Who knows… For me though, he was and remains in a way the closest person, a soul mate if you wish.

Sometimes we need a little push, a gentle joggle to pull ourselves out of the depths of despair and find who we are again. And, as you can see, I got it from the most unexpected corner of the internet, according to what I previously thought.

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